The Spanish Government has decided to maintain the prohibition of entry to Spain of cruise ships until the end of the health crisis situation.
While Spain has reopened its borders to holidaymakers, the country is extending its ban on cruise ships. According to a publication in the BOE – Boletin Oficial Del Estado, the Spanish Official State Gazette – the activity of cruise-type passenger ships in Spanish ports remains restricted.
The Resolution of the General Directorate of the Merchant Navy states that: “In the case of cruise ships, recreational passenger ships whose voyage lasts several days or weeks and calls at various ports for tourist visits, if a case of COVID-19 occurs in one of these ships, it could have a great impact on the health of the population, since they are closed places where hundreds or thousands of people of diverse characteristics share spaces and activities in a very close way and in which the probability of disease transmission is high.”
In 2019, nearly 11 million tourists came to Spain via cruise ships. Barcelona received some 3.1 million cruise passengers, the Balearic Islands 2.8 million, the port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 2.4 million and Santa Cruz de Tenerife just over 1 million tourists.
The ban on cruise ships entering Spanish ports was introduced three months ago in an effort to limit the spread and contagion by COVID-19.
The European Commission recently presented a set of guidelines and recommendations to help member states gradually lift travel restrictions, applying all necessary safety and precautions.
The include criteria for the development of sanitary protocols for hotels and other forms of accommodation. Criteria include epidemiological evidence, sufficient capacity of the health system for the local population and tourists, ability to perform robust testing, contact tracking, and monitoring and control.
In particular, on cruise-type passenger ships, the guidelines states that “previous outbreaks of cruise ship COVID-19 have highlighted the special vulnerability of environments closed during long trips. Before cruise ships resume their operations, ship operators must establish strict procedures to reduce the risk of contagion on board and to provide adequate medical assistance in case of contagion. “
Over the past few months cruise lines have been working with health authorities and medical experts to establish new comprehensive and enhanced health and safety protocols. This protocols will cover all aspects of the cruise from the booking phase through to disembarkation and the return home. They will also include all aspects of life on board and the precautionary measures to ensure the health and wellbeing of guests and crew including enhanced sanitation measures, guidelines for life on board as well as enhanced medical facilities and health screenings for guests and crew.
Until these protocols are established the ban on international cruise vacations remains in place.